John Deere Two Cylinder with Advanced Guidance System

Just because you prefer two cylinder tractors shouldn’t mean that you can’t have the latest technology. That’s what Jeff Ludeke of Atlanta, Nebraska seems to be saying with his creation, a 1947 model “A” John Deere with Auto-Trac guidance system.

Ludeke worked as the ag mangement solutions support representative at the LandMark John Deere dealership located near Holdrege, Nebraska in 2009. What better way of showing the versatility of the system than to install it on a 62-year-old tractor? Of course, a couple of concessions had to be made. The electrical system was changed to negative ground, with an alternator doing the charging. Spark for the plugs is still provided by a Wico X magneto, and so far, it has never interfered with the less robust guidance electronics, said Jeff. Behlen power steering was also added. It’s powered by a governor driven “live” hydraulic pump.

The system works just like it would on any 21st century model, guiding the tractor in a straight line from point “A” to point “B.” It’s even capable of learning and then following a curve for hands free contour farming. One glitch in the system is that the power steering needs to be rebuilt and occasionally “catches,” which shuts off the guidance. The system is built so that when the driver wants to take over driving, all he or she has to do is grab the steering wheel. The system then feels resistance and shuts off. The same thing happens when the system feels resistance from the power steering catch. A rebuild will be forthcoming.

Some of you are probably saying, “That guidance system probably cost 10 times what the tractor is worth!” That’s true, and Ludeke realizes this system isn’t financially feasible for a parade or plow day tractor, but it does show the system’s versatility. Representatives from Deere have taken photos of the set up to show other interested parties.



Hands free steering. The AutoTrac guides the “A” down a track in the wheat stubble that the guidance system had been set to make previously. Ludeke has used the system for plowing and sickle mowing.


Shown from top to bottom is the ITC receiver, Greenstar 2600 display and Autotrac Universal steering wheel. The steering shaft on the “A” is close enough in size and shape to that of more modern tractors that Ludeke was able to tighten the Universal steering wheel on it.